updated 01:00 pm EDT, Thu October 4, 2007
EU pushes cheap data/text
The head of the European Commission's Telecommunications section, Viviane Reding, is strongly urging local cellular carriers into drop the prices on their data services and text messaging, says Agence France-Presse. The move follows the installation of price caps on roaming charges, which have been effective since July 30th. The Commission claims that since that date, charges have fallen as much as 60 percent, no longer being allowed to exceed €0.49 ($0.69 US) when dialing or €0.24 ($0.34) when receiving. This amount should fall farther next year. Reding describes data and texting rates as similarly overpriced in Europe, and is threatening that if cellular companies do not voluntarily cut prices, a report would be produced by the end of 2008 evaluating the use of more price caps.
The announcement may be especially well-timed, as Apple's popular iPhone is scheduled to premiere in Germany and the United Kingdom on November 9th, with a French launch coming at an unspecified date. The device is especially dependent on data services, which has prompted Apple to push for unlimited plans with American carrier AT&T. UK carrier O2 and Germany's T-Mobile have already signed on to unlimited data plans, and France's Orange may be likely to follow. Without reasonable data rates, other phones and carriers may not be able to forestall am Apple dominance of the market.